Series overview here, and history of the Spanish Empire here. Next, a little demystification of the Spanish Inquisition is in order, given America and Britain's historical hostility to Spain.
The security apparatus of the Spanish Empire consisted of the Spanish Inquisition, which was mainly a tribunal, and the Holy Brotherhood (Santa Hermandad), which was more of a gendarmerie. The full name of the Inquisition also includes the word "Holy" (Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition). The authority and legitimacy of these organs of the Deep State were religious, sacred, holy, etc. -- not to be transgressed, which would amount to profanation, heresy, blasphemy, apostasy, etc.
This is no different from the Praetorian Guard in Rome, since their foremost duty was to protect the emperor, who according to the imperial cult was a god himself. By identifying and neutralizing threats to a political leader, they were also preventing attacks on a god. And it's scarcely any different in the American Empire, with our FBI, whose mythical purpose to defend our sacred civic religion of democracy against threats to it (which are treated as dangerously heretical, apostate, and so on).
And far from the local impromptu witch trials of the raving hysterics in Protestant Germany around the same time, the Spanish Inquisition was a stodgy bloated bureaucracy with multiple levels of hierarchy, and complicated procedures, including appeals -- the better to check the zeal of would-be witch-burners. And in fact the Inquisition was far less bloody than the Protestant witch trials.
That was not because the heads of the Inquisition's bureaucracy were so kindhearted -- but because hysterical witch-burners are wannabe upstart strivers at the local and anarchic level of society. The whole point of the Inquisition, and any Deep State, is to centralize authority and check the ambitions of the unruly elites below it.
Hence, in our own empire, the FBI targeting local school boards that pass anti-woke policies. As the FBI sees it, it's up to the centralized state, not local yahoos, to decide how the empire's children will be enculturated. If left up to the yahoos, there would be a zillion different outcomes, many contradictory, and at times threatening the legitimacy of the ruling elite, whose holy ideology du jour is wokeness.
Also unlike the Protestant psychos, who could have been snitching on their neighbor or friend or family member out of a petty grudge, the Inquisition primarily concerned itself with the wealthy, influential, and elite. The elites -- not the peasants -- pose the greatest collective threat to the central state. Similarly, the FBI only freaked out when anti-woke policies were being passed by school boards in wealthy suburbs of the imperial capital (NoVa), not in rural Kentucky.
And as the bureaucracy grows more and more bloated, with less and less reason for existing anymore, they will want to shake down their targets, to fund their skyrocketing budgets. No use in shaking down a landless peasant -- they will shake down a wealthy person instead. That is not confined to state security, but any kind of bureaucratic perpetuation.
In short, the Inquisition was used to identify, harass, and maybe even get rid of the potential or actual political enemies of the centralized leadership of the empire. They can't do this so nakedly and cynically, so they need a sacred, rather than utilitarian, rationalization. Their notion of the sacred involved the divine right of absolute monarchs to rule, and it was a sacred institution that was in charge of the tribunal. You couldn't oppose the political, utilitarian program of state security without also opposing the religious, sacred program of the church.
Likewise today, you can't oppose the FBI's partisan intervention in politics without also opposing the sacred institutions of American democracy, according to our conception of the sacred. Telling the FBI to go fuck itself is up-ending "the rule of law," i.e. the kind of system where God is in charge and everything flows nice and orderly, so that the Devil might take over and usher in wickedness and chaos. Or so the mission statement of the Deep State always goes.
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The Spanish Inquisition was founded in 1478, concurrent with the end of the Civil Wars of the Reconquista (1350 - 1479), during which the northern Iberian Christian kingdoms were at war with each other, and within themselves. Those civil wars came after several centuries of a fairly united Christian front that drove the Moors into the southern tip of the peninsula (1100 to 1250).
This ebb-and-flow of united fronts against external enemies, and civil wars after the former has been achieved, is general. The long period of civil wars during the Crisis of the Roman Republic came after a couple centuries of a fairly united front to drive out the invading Gauls and the Carthaginians. The American Civil War & Reconstruction came after a long period of uniting to conquer the Indian threat, and to break away from the British Empire.
The next stage is the rise of the state security apparatus, now that the central leadership has had its attention drawn to *internal* threats to its power and stability, not only external enemies, where its attention had been focused earlier in imperial expansion. The Praetorian Guard as a powerful faction followed the Crisis of the Roman Republic, and the FBI followed the end of the Civil War & Reconstruction.
It was no different in Spain. The Castilian kingdom had always been the region with the highest asabiya (intense social bonds, or potential for collective action), as it was the most exposed to the meta-ethnic frontier with the Moorish Empire. The Civil Wars of the Reconquista established Castile as the foremost among the Christian kingdoms, and so the security apparatus was designed to protect the Castilian leadership against all other threats.
Those threats included not only the foreign Muslims and Jews who had come in with the Moorish invasion, but also non-Castilian regions in northern Spain -- greater Aragon (including Catalonia), Basque Country / Navarre, and Portugal. As Spain expanded and involved itself more in European politics, external threats -- e.g., from the Protestant Reformation, or later the Enlightenment -- could enter Spain directly with foreign invaders, or through Spaniards who were sympathetic to those foreign sources.
And although the following point was not so crucial within its historical context, it needs to be emphasized for the people of the British and American empires, whose own ethnogenesis is fundamentally anti-Catholic (stemming from their imperial rivalry with France and Spain). Part of their imperial mythology is that their imperial rivals are slave-like robots to the central orders of the Pope, who controls all people in all Catholic societies like an evil mastermind.
In reality, Spain sought to insulate its central state from the influence of the Pope, who was not only the sacred leader of the Roman Catholic Church, but the political leader of the Papal States (the rump state that contained Rome, in the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire). This Inquisition was Spanish -- not Italian or Roman or Papal -- because it was designed to protect the security of the central leadership of the Spanish Empire, not of Rome, the Papal States, or the international Roman Catholic Church.
Likewise, the American Empire has its own proper FBI and CIA to shield its own imperial leadership against threats to its sacred political institutions. They don't outsource all of that work to the British Deep State just because we are historically related and have similar conceptions of the sacred (democracy, representative government, etc.). Spain and the Papal States were both Christian / Catholic, just as America and Britain are both liberal democratic in their civic religion. That only unites Spain and the Papal States against Muslims, or America and Britain against the Soviets or North Korea (not liberal democratic in civic religion). But the security apparatus is for neutralizing all threats to the central state, including those from within the same society, or fairly friendly foreigners.
Just as importantly, the Inquisition was not involved in foreign expansion. They did not launch crusades against Muslims or Jews outside of the empire, nor did they send divisions to battle Protestants during various wars of religion, or station troops outside of Rome to assert independence from the Pope. Those are all military functions, and the Deep State is a domestic security apparatus. Only if you were a Muslim, Jew, Protestant, or Papal agent inside the Spanish Empire, did you wind up on the Inquisition's radar.
Likewise, the FBI is not the institution that tries to expand American imperial territory abroad, or administer what we have already conquered. Not even the foreign-facing CIA is that central to conquest, which has been through the military.
The next post in the series will survey the rise and fall of the Inquisition's power.